The first of my lists this year is the recounting of my top 12 live performances of the year. I had another pretty spectacular year of live shows, so really the numbering of these things is kind of irrelevant because everything was amazing. And yet.
12. Trampled By Turtles, Newport Folk Festival, Rhode Island
Yes, I finally got to see these guys live this year, after the Quad Stage Debacle of 2011 (basically, too many freaking people jammed into one area makes Kristi cease to breathe). They were on fire and did not disappoint. I really want to know how that guy plays the fiddle so damn fast.
11. The Punch Brothers, The Egg, Albany, New York
My sister graciously took me to this show, and YOU GUYS. The Punch Brothers are so incredible live that I can't even. The husband and I have missed them two years in a row at Newport (WE ARE TERRIBLE PEOPLE I KNOW), so I was excited to get to see them in a small-stage setting. This video is from a recording they did in Australia a few months ago because I couldn't find any footage from the Albany show, and also because THE HD QUALITY OF MACARTHUR GENIUS CHRIS THILE'S BEAUTIFUL FACE.
10. Pearl & the Beard, The Egg, Albany, New York
After waiting patiently for Pearl & the Beard to come into town for about 3 years, they finally arrived, opening for Ani DiFranco. The husband got us third row seats. I was blown away by their live sound. Honestly, they are your new favorite band. You will find them and you will see them, and you will know their glory.
9. Fiona Apple, The Palace, Albany, New York
She came out singing "Fast as You Can," and my 18-year-old self emerged from within, clutching the husband's arm to the point of loss of circulation. I can't even express how excited I was for this show this year, and Fiona did not disappoint. I am so lucky to have finally seen her in the flesh, in all of her waify-hobo adorableness. Amazing.
8. Dawes, Newport Folk Festival, Rhode Island
I feel like I spent a lot of my weekend in Newport this year flailing over Taylor Goldsmith. I mean if he walked past you in a small club setting, you would flail, too, right? They had a fantastic set on the main stage this year, and I am very excited for their new album in 2013. HNNNNG.
7. Sharon Van Etten, Restoration Festival, Albany, New York
OH SWEET SHARON. I love this woman (and her bassist, whom the husband has dubbed Skinny Chris O'Dowd). We got to see her at the Blues Cafe in Newport, and when we found out that she was coming to play the Restoration Festival in Albany, we knew we had to be there. You know, standing about 6 feet in front of her. Definitely a fantastic way to spend an evening.
6. The Tallest Man on Earth, Newport Folk Festival, Rhode Island
I just feel so lucky to have been there, you know? He doesn't come to the US very often, so this was just special. He commanded the stage and the throngs of people standing in the rain to hear him. I'm happy that we made the decision to spend the afternoon in this tent.
5. Middle Brother, Blues Cafe, Newport, Rhode Island
Standing pressed against the stage for this was easily one of the highlights of my life. GOOD GRIEF.
4. Tune-Yards, Newport Folk Festival, Rhode Island
The band that you have to see live to believe. Merrill, I LOVE YOU. This set was just unforgettable, and I was completely mesmerized by what they were able to produce with a few instruments and a loop machine. DAMN, SON.
3. Robert Ellis/Shovels & Rope/Jonny Corndawg, The Iron Horse, Northampton, Massachusetts
For me, this was, by far, the greatest concert-that-wasn't-Newport of the year. Robert Ellis is enchanting, Shovels and Rope are FREAKING AWESOME, and Jonny Corndawg (now Jonny Fritz) has never disappointed. The Iron Horse has insanely strict taping/photography policies, so here's a clip of Shovels and Rope playing elsewhere in MA this year. NEWPORT 2013 YOU GUYS LET'S BE REAL HERE.
2. Frank Fairfield, Newport Folk Festival, Rhode Island
I can't even really explain just how transfixed I was by watching Frank Fairfield this year. He is simply a genius, and if you ever have the chance, you MUST GO TO SEE HIM. Much like my feelings about watching Andrew Bird last year, I could have sat and listening to Frank play for hours. Here's a little sampling, basically paling in comparison to physically sitting in front of him. So great.
1. Tom Morello, Newport Folk Festival, Rhode Island
I can't even. This was a life-changing set, my friends. Follow Tom Morello on twitter and get some perspective on the state of the world. The decision to turn around and walk into this tent was one of the best of my life. Honestly.